Families hoping to see their loved one residing in a care facility may soon be able to so without having to be stuck behind a window.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said during the province’s COVID-19 update on Monday that in-person visits to care homes will soon become a reality in the coming weeks.
“Absolutely, yes, I do believe we will be having visits in a controlled way in care homes in the coming weeks,” she said.
Henry’s comment came in response to a question from CHEK about whether the province would consider allowing in-person visits to care facilities.
B.C.’s top doctor acknowledged that the province has been exploring ways to allow in-person visitation to loved ones.
“That’s a really important question and it is something near to my heart and we have been working on for a number of weeks,” Henry said.
COVID-19 has closed off long term care from in-person visits for over three months now in order to protect vulnerable people from becoming infected with COVID-19.
Although a number of facilities have allowed in-person visitation in cases where death was imminent, for many people the only way they can see their loved ones is through a window or by video calling.
And some Vancouver Island care facilities have been scheduling 15-minute visitations with loved ones by setting up a specific ground-floor room with a window to serve as a designated reunion spot.
But there have been growing calls for health officials to begin allowing in-person visitation to care facilities as British Columbia has recently allowed restaurants, nightclubs, and other venues to reopen under tougher health and safety regulations.
Mary Dewar, a Vancouver Island resident and advocate for the group Seniors in Care Crisis told CHEK on Saturday that many families and those living in care facilities want in-person visits with their loved ones before its too late.
“They’ve been incarcerated for no fault other than being old and needing help and they’ve been denied access to their families,” Dewar told CHEK. “They want their families . . . [and] this is a huge issue.”
Henry said on Monday that allowing in-person visitations is a challenging and complicated question, but one that will be answered sooner rather than later.
“It is such a challenging question and it is more complicated and we all want to be with our loved ones,” Henry said, adding .”We know how important it is for them to have family with them, but we need to do it safely.”
With files from Skye Ryan